Hours after Twitter suspended the account that tracks the movements of Elon Musk’s private jet, the company reversed its decision and put it back online.
Florida-based Sweeney set up the automated @elonjet account in June 2020 and has since amassed more than half a million followers. Using publicly available data, it automatically posts a tweet every time Musk’s jet takes off and lands, detailing the departure and arrival locations, as well as the flight time, fuel costs, and CO2 emissions.
Musk, who acquired Twitter in late October for $44 billion, has expressed displeasure at the automated account a number of times, citing security issues, but more recently promised not to ban it due to his stance on free speech.
“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Musk tweeted in early November.
“We’ve updated our Private Information policy to prohibit sharing someone else’s live location in most cases. Here’s what changed and why,” the company said. “When someone shares an individual’s live location on Twitter, there is an increased risk of physical harm. Moving forward, we’ll remove tweets that share this information, and accounts dedicated to sharing someone else’s live location will be suspended.”
It continued: “You can still share your own live location on Twitter. Tweets that share someone else’s historical (not same-day) location information are also not prohibited by this policy. Content that shares location information related to a public engagement or event, such as a concert or political event, is also permitted.”
In a tweet later on Wednesday, Musk attempted to clarify the situation regarding @elonjet, saying that “posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem.”
The tweet said: “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is OK.”
The “slightly delayed” or “not same day” element means Sweeney may have to adjust @elonjet’s algorithms to ensure the account isn’t suspended again.
Confusingly, other Twitter accounts set up by Sweeney to follow the movements of private jets owned by the likes of Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos remain suspended.
In January, Musk offered Sweeney $5,000 to delete the @elonjet account. Sweeney responded by asking for $50,000, saying the money would help put him through college, but Musk took it no further.